This rare WWII British film shows the operation of a Sea Fort, a fortified tower equipped with anti-aircraft guns and heavy artillery. These so-called Maunsell Forts were built in the Thames and Mersey estuaries during the Second World War to help defend the United Kingdom. They were operated as army and navy forts, and named after their designer, Guy Maunsell. The forts were decommissioned in the late 1950s and later used for other activities including pirate radio broadcasting. One of the forts is now managed by the unrecognised Principality of Sealand; boats visit the remaining forts occasionally, and a consortium called Project Redsands is planning to conserve the fort situated at Red Sands. In the summers of 2007 and 2008 Red Sands Radio, a station commemorating the pirate radio stations of the 1960s, operated from the Red Sands fort on 28-day Restricted Service Licences. The fort was subsequently declared unsafe, and Red Sands Radio has moved its operations ashore to Whitstable.
The Maunsell naval (sea) forts, built in the Thames estuary and operated by the Royal Navy, were to deter and report German air raids following the Thames as a landmark, and attempts to lay mines by aircraft in this important shipping channel.
There were four naval forts:
Rough Sands (HM Fort Roughs) (U1)
Sunk Head (U2)
Tongue Sands (U3)
Knock John (U4)
The design of these concrete structures is equal to a military grade bunker, due to the ends of the stilts, (under water) that are solidly locked into the ground. Many species of fish live near the forts because the forts create cover. They have provided landmark references for shipping.
The design was a concrete construction; a pontoon barge on which stood two cylindrical towers on top of which was the gun platform mounting two 3.75-inch guns and two 40 mm Bofors guns. They were laid down in dry dock and assembled as complete units. They were then fitted out — the crews going on board at the same time for familiarization — before being towed out and sunk onto their sand bank positions in 1942.
The naval fort design was the latest of several that Maunsell had devised in response to Admiralty inquiries. Early ideas had considered forts in the English Channel able to take on enemy vessels.
Maunsell also designed forts for anti-aircraft defence. These were larger installations comprising seven interconnected steel platforms. Four towers carried QF 3.75 inch guns arranged in a semicircle ahead of the control centre and accommodation, a tower to the rear of the control centre mounted Bofors 40 mm guns, while the seventh tower, set to one side of the gun towers and further out, was the searchlight tower.
Three forts were placed in the Mersey:
Queens AA Towers
Formby AA Towers
Burbo AA Towers
This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD and 2k. For more information visit http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com